Information for health professionals

Kent and Medway Communication and Assistive Technology (KM CAT) Service

Our KM CAT service identify and work to meet the needs of those requiring specialist alternative and augmentative communication (AAC). We also support local therapists by providing training and equipment.

On this page

Referral information

For details of how to refer to us, including criteria and our referral form.

Referral information

Prior to referral

An assessment must be carried out prior to referral to KM CAT.

NHSE requires that patients accessing our service are referred from a professional, preferably a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) in a statutory service role i.e. an NHS / local authority / education funded professional involved in the patient’s care.

Referral criteria

Our provision-only service is available to community therapists for patients registered to a GP in East Kent or Swale, who has need of a communication aid.

To access this service, the referring therapist must have completed an assessment with the client, identified the appropriate equipment, and be able to provide ongoing support and training to the client.

To determine whether your patient meets our criteria, please refer to the decision chart below.

Download our detailed specialised AAC criteria document

If your client does not meet the criteria for specialist AAC service involvement, they may still be able to access funding for AAC equipment through alternative routes.

Download our guidance for help with purchasing AAC equipment

Making a referral

If a patient is registered to a GP in east Kent or Swale and assessed with a clusterbox - make a provisional-only referral. The referrer must have received clusterbox training from KM CAT prior to making a provision-only referral.

If a patient has complex communication needs meeting the service criteria - make an assessment referral.

If a patient has communication difficulty and the therapist is unsure how to proceed - make a consultation referral.

If your patient does not meet our criteria for assessment or provision, we are still happy to give advice.

Referral form

You will need Adobe Acrobat to view the form. Please view the guidance notes for each section of the form by clicking on the blue 'i' symbol.

Download our referral form

Please note, if you would like to edit the referral form on a PC, We recommend using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC or Pro DC as these offer the best compatibility with the form.

Please send a completed referral form to

Provision only referrals

If requesting an iPad or iPod App, then please note that we cannot accept the referral unless the e-mail address for the patient's iTunes account is stated (question 12.7.)

Consultation referrals

The aim of a consultation is to support the referrer when they are unsure how to proceed, and may be face to face, or a phone consultation. The client is not present for the consultation.

Using videos when making a referral

Video recordings of patients can provide valuable information and help us process referrals.

Refer to our guidance on how to take video recordings for clients of AAC

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A clusterbox is a collection of AAC equipment issued by KM CAT to local therapist groups, containing each type of equipment available for provision by KM CAT in areas that we cover.

The purpose of the clusterbox is to make equipment readily available for use by local therapists to use in their assessments.

Once the local therapist has identified a suitable communication aid for their patient, they can make a referral for equipment provision (East Kent and Swale) or seek funding, i.e. charity or private provision (West Kent, Medway & DGS).

To make effective use of our clusterboxes, we recommend that therapists attend one of our training days. For access to our provision-only service, this training is mandatory.

Download our guidance for informing clients about confidentiality risks associated with cloud-based apps

To help you identify the right app for your client, these tables compare their features, highlighting their similarities and differences:

Clusterbox photo and symbol based apps comparison table Clusterbox text based apps comparison table

Clusterbox contacts

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Book training with KM CAT

Please take a look at our training levels before booking onto a session to ensure it is relevant for you. Please contact the KM CAT office if you want to discuss this further on 01227 864083 or

  • Introductory: These courses are aimed at anyone who would like to know more about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). The attendee does not require any experience in this area.

  • Beginner: These courses are aimed at people who are newer to AAC but are likely to implement it in their role. Orto those who would like a refresher.

  • Developing: These courses are aimed at healthcare professionals who have some awareness and experience of implementing AAC.

To book or for more information about any of our training, please email your enquiry to

Available sessions

Intro to KM CAT (Introductory)
  • 14 September 2023 – Webinar – 9am-9.45am

This brief session covers referral criteria for assessment, what support we can provide and what equipment we can provide.

GoTalk Now App (Beginner)
  • No upcoming dates

A brief introduction to the range of GoTalk iOS Apps which can be used to make simple symbol, photo & phrase-based communication systems.

Clusterbox (Beginner)
  • 28 September 2023 – Webinar – 9am-11am

This is essential training to look at what’s in your local cluster box. It includes tips on how you can assess your clients for AAC and ideas on how support your clients to use it successfully.

Face-to-face drop in sessions - 14th and 15th June 2023.

KM CAT website and FREE resources (Beginner)
  • No upcoming dates

This quick and easy training session covers everything that is on our website, from free resources to “how to” videos, case studies to referral criteria.

Talking Mats (small fee) (Developing)
  • Upcoming dates to be confirmed

This training will help you to:*

  • Use Talking Mats to support the children and adults you work with to share their feelings, thoughts and views.  

  • Reflect on your own communication.

  • Learn how issues that arise can be explored further through careful planning. 

  • Discover our Talking Mats research and evidence base. 

  • Connect with practitioners around the world.

*extract taken from Talking Mats Foundation

Managing communication for deteriorating conditions (Developing)
  • No upcoming dates

This session covers early management, intervention timing, assessment, low tech options, and other relevant services, for a range of deteriorating neurological conditions including MS, MSA, PSP and MND.

Top Tips for AAC and IG (Beginner)
  • 20 April 2023 – Webinar – 9am-10am

This training will highlight some of the main considerations around information governance, data management and privacy that you need to be aware of when it comes to AAC. Also, top tips about what to watch out for yourselves and what information you might want to share with your clients.

How to train an effective communication partner (Developing)
  • 18 May 2023 – Webinar – 9am-10am

Communicating using AAC is very different from using natural speech. Using AAC to communicate can break up the flow of conversation, and may be misunderstood. It takes support from communication partners, who have the right skills and tools to help them get the most out of communication. This can lead to a more rewarding and fulfilling interaction for both parties.

We will discuss strategies that will help you to support your client’s relatives and carers to facilitate effective conversations. 

Text based apps (Beginner)
  • 6 July 2023 – Webinar – 9am-10.30am

This training should help you find the right text-to-speech app for your clients. It will cover popular Clusterbox apps such as Predictable and ProLoQuo4Text as well as android and lower cost apps.

AAC and Aphasia (Developing)
  • 4 October 2023 – Webinar – 9am-10.30am

Finding AAC solutions for people with aphasia can be tricky. This training discusses the challenges, assessment process and AAC options for people with aphasia.

Voice and Message Banking (Introductory)
  • 19 October 2023 – Webinar – 9am-11am

Find out about the voice and message banking process, as well as important things to consider to support your clients.

Making communication aids easier to use (Beginner)
  • 9 November 2023 – Face-to-face – 9am-11am

This session provides top tips and ideas on how you can make standard communication aids (eg: Lightwriter, iPad, communication charts) easier to use for those patients with physical difficulties eg: tremor.

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Useful resources

Please use the headings below to access useful resources.

There may be support for your patient available through a number of charities and associations. Please see the charities page in our patient pages for more useful links.